(The Center Square) – Illinois’ vulnerable residents will have new options for supportive housing soon, thanks to a $40 million grant from the Illinois Housing Development Authority to fund the development of new permanent supportive residences.
A subset of affordable housing, the Permanent Supportive Housing Development Program provides a place to live as independently as possible for individuals, including those transitioning from institutions, at risk of homelessness or with substance-abuse issues, a news release from IHDA said.
Bob Palmer, policy director at Housing Action Illinois, said supportive housing is critical to helping those who need services attached to their accommodations to be a successful tenant.
“Generally, the owner of the building – but it doesn’t have to be the owner of the building in all cases – is providing the services that people need in order to be able to be successful in the housing,” Palmer said.
Services can include assistance with the everyday maintenance of an apartment for those coming out of a nursing home or case management for persons who previously or are currently struggling with a mental health issue or substance use disorder, Palmer said.
There is a shortage of this kind of housing around the state, he said.
“So while these new units being created are really crucial and important, and we’re very happy about that, there’s still a very large unmet need, and so we need the state of Illinois and other entities to be creating more additional supportive housing units in subsequent years to meet all the demand that is out there,” Palmer said.
State funding is critical because it is a challenge to finance the development and operation of projects like this, Palmer said.
“The affordable rents and what the building collection revenues are generally less than what the costs are of operating the building on an annual basis,” he said.
The state’s award will allow the developments to operate without relying on traditional bank loans, Palmer said.
Funding supportive housing will also save the state money, Palmer said.
“There’s a lot of empirical data from a variety of sources over the years in Illinois and elsewhere that permanent supportive housing is very cost effective compared to other options such as having people live in nursing homes or if someone is a frequent user of a hospital service, having them go to the emergency room on a repeated basis,” he said.